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Egyptian President: 80–90% "Are With What I Have Done"

In an interview with Time, Mohamed Morsi downplays the role of his recent decrees in the upheaval rocking Egypt.

Posted on November 28, 2012, at 5:36 p.m. ET

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Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi addressed his recent power grab in an interview with Time, saying that if he could go back, he wouldn't do anything differently. Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood government replaced that of the former dictator Hosni Mubarak, also said he thinks most of Egypt approves of the move.

"I think more than 80, around 90% of the people in Egypt are — according to these opinion measures — they are with what I have done," Mubarak said. "It’s not against the people, it’s with the people, coincides with the benefits. There is some difference between what’s happening now in expressing the opinions of the people and what happened in January 2011 [during the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak]. There is now some violence that we haven’t seen before, which constitutes something bad going on."

Morsi said the problem of mass violent protests over the last week would be resolved by a constitution.

"If we had a constitution, then all of what I have said or done last week, will stop," Morsi said, apparently wiping his hands. Morsi's decree last week gave the body in charge of drafting a constitution two more months to finish, giving himself two months of transition in which the judiciary doesn't have a say in his decisions. It has set off mass protests in Cairo.

Morsi rejected the idea of himself as a "new pharaoh," as Time put it: "New pharaoh? [Laughs from the gut.] Can I be? I’ve been suffering, I’ve been suffering, personally!"

He said that the Muslim Brotherhood is "by definition" a democratic organization, and "I’m very keen on having true freedom of expression."

Morsi is expected to address his controversial decree on television on Thursday.